Facebook is Analyzing All of Your Images and Taking Note of the Contents

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Facebook has, perhaps unintentionally, revealed that they are analyzing all of your images, taking note of the content of those images, and using what they find to further their reach. Just yesterday we reported that Facebook announced that the images – even unpublished images – of millions of users had been exposed to unpermitted access. The takeaway? Any image you upload to Facebook will be exploited, not least of which by Facebook.

Proof that Facebook is Analyzing Your Images and Noting the Contents

Look at this screen capture of a message that one of our editors received from Facebook just yesterday (December 16, 2018). Note that Facebook says “We thought you’d like to look back at some of the dog photos you’ve shared in the past year.” Here is what is important to know: At no time did this person post the word ‘dog’ along with these pictures. This means that Facebook scanned the content of the picture and determined that there was a dog in the image, and then used that information to market back to the user.


facebook image dogs dog analyzing content

Now, of course, telling you that you have a dog (cat, horse, child, baby, banana, car, whatever) in your images, and saying that Facebook thought you’d like to look at some of those images seems innocent enough. Until you really think about it.

Got lots of dogs in your images on Facebook? Suddenly seeing more promoted posts about dogs, or dog food ads on Facebook? Not so innocent. Suddenly seeing dog food ads elsewhere on the Internet? Downright evil.

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Facebook is Analyzing All of Your Images and Taking Note of the Contents

That last – ads following you around the Internet – is known as remarketing, and as we explain about remarketing here, remarketing allows advertisers whose websites you have visited to show you their ads as you browse around the web.

Now, Facebook allowing their advertisers to advertise to you on Facebook based on your travels elsewhere on the web has been going on for years (read our article Facebook Stalking Your Browser and App Use to Target Ads to You here).

So has Facebook’s allowing their advertisers to target their audience with a high degree of granularity. And, in fact, ‘interests’ is one of the ways that these advertisers can target you.

facebook ad targeting

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However, we think that scanning and analyzing your images, and using that data to target you is a new low even for Facebook.

Now, we don’t (yet) have evidence that this is one of the ways that Facebook is compiling it’s dossier about you and your interests, but how could it not be?

Using data derived from analyzing the content of your images, when the average person still thinks of an image as a single unified image, not something which can be analyzed for discrete object recognition (facial recognition not withstanding), falls into the “just because you can do it doesn’t mean that you should do it” area.

So far we have only thought of this one obvious use of the intel gleaned from object scanning of your images on Facebook. It’s likely not the most nefarious one.

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Facebook is Analyzing All of Your Images and Taking Note of the Contents

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2 Replies to “Facebook is Analyzing All of Your Images and Taking Note of the Contents”

  1. One doesn’t have to see ads. Ad blockers are quite effective at blocking not only ads but also the tracking that accompanies them. Also, “relevant” really means just more effective at manipulating you into doing what they want. Usually that’s buying their products, but as we’ve seen it could also be trying to influence elections. Realizing this is a bit like starting to “see” the empty space in the room, it isn’t something we normal even think about. Smart phones and their respective advertising and tracking are the most effective means yet developed to keep people docile and chained to the hedonistic treadmill for the benefit and profit of others. But you don’t have to play their game, escape and freedom are possible.

  2. If you’re going to see ads regardless, don’t you want them to be relevant? A bigger problem is that they keep advertising the same product even after I bought it. When will they be able to track that I made the purchase and switch my ads to the next thing I need. Hey Facebook, I already bought a kitchen table, now I need some bar stools!

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